My teaching comes from the heart and a desire to see other minds excited and delighted by the beauty, elegance, and utility of mathematics. As an applied mathematician I am keenly aware of many students wanting to see math “in action” and being used for real-world applications. Thus, I try to incorporate as many physical, biological, and social examples as is practical in a course. However, much of mathematics is wondrous in its own right, and therefore I also endeavor to help students see this beauty and elegance in mathematics.
I am very interested in issues surrounding Mathematics Education and am always trying to improve and refine my own approach to teaching. I routinely seek feedback from my students and from my peers. Additionally, I regularly attend the Southeastern Sectional Mathematics Association of America (MAA) yearly meeting to learn what methods other mathematics instructors are employing in their classrooms. These meetings are a wonderful venue for undergraduate students to meet other young mathematicians in the southeast region, to showcase their research, and to learn about different graduate school opportunities. Any student interested in attending one of these conferences should let me know as I would be more than happy to help make arrangements for Rhodes students to attend. Additionally, I am the faculty sponsor of the Rhodes chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics & Computer Science (AWM+CS). This Rhodes club exists to encourage and support our female students interested in Mathematics or Computer science even if it is not your intended major. Please contact me if you are interested in joining.
My interest in environmental issues and the biological sciences led me to pursue mathematical biology/ecology which allows me to explore biological phenomenon through a mathematical lens. My biological interests include many areas of population dynamics. I have worked on several models for the spread of various infectious diseases (HIV, HSV, and MRSA) through populations. Many of the papers resulting from this research emphasized methods for evaluating complex model responses as affected by large numbers of parameters. My current research utilizes modeling and optimal control theory applied to differential equations and discrete difference equations to develop optimal management strategies for conserving/preserving dynamic ecological systems. Optimal control theory is a mathematical theory that determines that best or optimal strategy given competing objectives and various constraints. For example, when and how should treatment to a cancer patient be given to minimize the size of a tumor over some given time, while also minimizing the amount of treatment given and therefore the severity of negative side effects felt by the patient? Optimal control theory provides a power set of mathematical theory to answer these types of questions and has been used in a wide variety of applications. See my curriculum vitae for a complete and current list of my publications.
I am eager to explore modeling and optimal control problems with Rhodes students interested in mathematics research. There are many problems of both ecological and public health interest which would make for compelling undergraduate research. Any students interested in the mathematical modeling of biological applications should feel free to stop by my office or send me an email. See my curriculum vitae for a list of past Rhodes student research projects I have advised.
Outside the Classroom
I was born and raised in Southern California. Specifically, I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, which technically makes me a “valley girl,” but most people tell me they would never have guessed. I completed my undergraduate education at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, graduating with a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Anthropology. I worked as a research assistant at UCLA for two years modeling the spread of infectious diseases before continuing on to graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I graduated with my PhD in Mathematics (concentration in Mathematical Ecology) in 2010, and then moved across the state to Memphis to join the faculty at Rhodes. Since moving to Tennessee, I have grown quite fond of the South, despite the humidity.
My husband, daughter, and I live in the Greentrees Neighborhood on the border between Memphis and Germantown with our two cats. Most of my spare time is spent playing with my toddler daughter and watching/listening to the news with my husband. Both my husband and I are political news junkies (there is no hope for our daughter), so many of our breakfasts and dinners involve lively political discussions. I spend a lot of my random thoughts on the intersection of science, politics, and government policy. Over the past several years I have been captivated by the surmounting body of evidence linking US agricultural policy with the US obesity epidemic. I am always interested in reading literature and watching documentaries on this and related subjects. And, if there are any students that would be interested in a modeling project related to agro-policy/obesity epidemic, come see me.
Ph.D., Mathematics, University of Tennessee--Knoxville